McManus and Gallagher have more in common than Bush administration contracts

››› ››› SIMON MALOY

Nationally syndicated columnists Maggie Gallagher and Michael McManus, who were exposed this week for accepting government payments to promote the Bush administration's marriage initiative, have both received support and funding from a network of advocacy organizations, foundations, and publishers known for advancing conservative causes.

Washington Post staff writer and media critic Howard Kurtz reported on January 26 that Gallagher, now president of the Institute for Marriage and Public Policy (IMPP), received $21,500 from the Department of Health and Human Services in 2002 to conduct a briefing and write brochures and a Crisis magazine article that promoted the Bush administration's $300 million marriage initiative. She received an additional $20,000 in 2002 and 2003 to write a report ("Can Government Strengthen Marriage?") for the National Fatherhood Initiative.

Salon.com senior writer Eric Boehlert reported January 27 that McManus -- president and co-chair of Marriage Savers, Inc., a company that purports to help men and women prepare for and strengthen their marriages -- was paid $10,000 to promote the Bush administration's Community Healthy Marriage Initiative in conference trainings and presentations. Both Gallagher and McManus promoted administration policies in several columns. Gallagher also discussed marriage in numerous TV appearances while the government was paying her to promote its marriage initiative; according to Nexis, she appeared on CBS, CNN, and MSNBC at least seven times in 2002 and 2003. McManus specifically promoted the administration's marriage policies in a 2004 appearance on CBS' The Early Show. Neither disclosed their contracts during any of these appearances.

Universal Press syndicates Gallagher's columns, along with those of such conservatives as William F. Buckley Jr. and Ann Coulter. The conservative Heritage Foundation also publishes Gallagher's columns on its website TownHall.com.

The IMPP, which Gallagher founded in 2003, endeavors to provide "research and public education on ways that law and public policy can strengthen marriage as a social institution." Before founding the institute, Gallagher was a founding editor of the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research's City Journal and an affiliate scholar with the Institute for American Values. The Manhattan Institute for Policy Research receives funding from the John M. Olin Foundation, the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and the Sarah Scaife Foundation, among others.

As the Post reported, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) hired Gallagher to draft an essay for Dr. Wade Horn, HHS assistant secretary for children and families. The essay, "Closing the Marriage Gap," which was published in the June 2002 issue of Crisis, was attributed to Horn. The article cited figures from the book The Case for Marriage (Doubleday, 2001), which Gallagher co-authored.

Crisis magazine endeavors to "bring the wisdom of the Catholic tradition into direct dialogue with contemporary politics and culture." It is published by Morley Publishing Group, which receives significant financial backing from the conservative Olin and Bradley foundations. The magazine's advisory board includes Paul M. Weyrich, founding president of the conservative Heritage Foundation and current chairman and CEO of the Free Congress Foundation; conservative author and nationally syndicated radio host William J. Bennett; former secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan Alexander M. Haig; and Wall Street Journal contributing editor Peggy Noonan. Manhattan Institute board of trustees member Peter Flanigan sits on the magazine's executive board, and former Labor secretary nominee Linda Chavez is a contributing editor.

On August 20, 2004, The Washington Post reported that Deal W. Hudson, who was then president of Crisis and had served as the Catholic outreach adviser to President George W. Bush's reelection campaign, had quit his campaign position amid allegations of sexual harassment. The Post detailed Hudson's connection to the Bush administration: "Hudson, 54, had been a key player in the Republican Party's effort to attract Roman Catholic voters. Because of his connections to the White House and his friendship with senior presidential adviser Karl Rove, he was widely regarded as a Catholic power broker in Washington."

Gallagher's second HHS-funded project, "Can the Government Strengthen Marriage?" was commissioned by the National Fatherhood Initiative, the Institute for American Values, and Gallagher's Institute for Marriage and Public Policy. The National Fatherhood Initiative and the Institute for American Values have also received significant funding from conservative foundations.

The National Fatherhood Initiative, whose mission is "to lead a society-wide movement to confront the problem of father absence," receives funding from the Bradley Foundation and the Scaife Family Foundation. Horn, the HHS assistant secretary for children and families, is the founder and one-time president of the National Fatherhood Initiative.

The Institute for American Values, which describes itself as "a private, nonpartisan organization devoted to contributing intellectually to the renewal of marriage and family life and the sources of competence, character, and citizenship," also receives Bradley and Scaife money, as well as grants from the John M. Olin Foundation, another major financer of conservative organizations. The Institute for American Values' board of directors includes William K. Tell Jr., a Manhattan Institute trustee and an adjunct fellow of the American Enterprise Institute. Its affiliate scholars include Manhattan Institute senior fellow Kay S. Hymowitz, and its academic advisers include American Enterprise Institute resident scholar Christina Hoff Sommers.

Gallagher's 1996 book, The Abolition of Marriage: How we Destroy Lasting Love, was published by Regnery Publishing, Inc., which describes itself as "the nation's preeminent conservative publisher."

McManus, who once wrote for TIME magazine, is president and co-chair of Marriage Savers, Inc., which describes itself as "a ministry that equips local communities, principally through local congregations, to help men and women to: [p]repare for lifelong marriage; [s]trengthen existing marriages, and [r]estore troubled marriage[s]." According to the Marriage Savers website, McManus has written his "Ethics and Religion" column since 1981, and it appears in about 50 papers weekly. McManus's columns have appeared in The Baltimore Sun, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and The Washington Times, among others. As Boehlert's Salon.com article reported, McManus promoted in his columns the Bush marriage initiative he was paid to promote. On the June 30, 2004, edition of CBS' The Early Show, McManus appeared to promote Marriage Savers as an example of a marriage education program the government was funding:

McMANUS: The fact of the matter is that we are failing in half of our new marriages, and the society has to pick up the cost. You and I have to pay more in taxes as a result of the failures of these relationships.

TRACY SMITH (Early Show correspondent): So in a move to promote domestic tranquility, the federal government is getting involved. It's actually part of the welfare reauthorization bill. What it means is that the federal government is spending millions on marriage education. And that begs the question: Is marital happiness something you can teach? The answer is, you can try.

Mike and Harriet McManus, who've been married for more than two decades themselves, run Marriage Savers, a program to iron out problems before a couple says 'I do.' It all costs less than $20 a couple. The goal of government funding is to make programs like it affordable to lovebirds all over the country.

Salon.com also reported that Horn, who "has known McManus for years, says he first learned about the payment on Thursday [January 27]." Horn was a founding member of the Marriage Savers board. Marriage Savers also receives financial backing from the Scaife Foundations. And an article by McManus titled "Why is it in the Government's Interest to Save Marriages?" was published on The Heritage Foundation's website on February 25, 2002. The Center for American Progress reported that "Heritage also helped procure over $46,000 from HHS for Marriage Savers."

McManus also has ties to Gallagher: A laudatory review of The Case for Marriage appears on the Marriage Savers site. McManus has also cited Gallagher's work in his articles, such as the 2002 Heritage Foundation article cited above, a October 9, 1999, "Ethics and Religion" column, and a letter to the editor in the April 13, 2002, Washington Post. McManus also acknowledged that Gallagher edited "The Marriage Movement: A Statement of Principles," a statement of a "grass-roots movement to strengthen marriage" endorsed by McManus and others.

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